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13160
South Dakota

The Best of Mount Rushmore, the Black Hills and Badlands

Discover South Dakota’s beautiful Black Hills and Badlands, where bison mosey through roadside meadows and hand-carved mountains tower over vast stretches of untouched wilderness.
Rating (4.91)
Program No. 13160RJ
Length
7 days
Starts at
1,499
South Dakota

The Best of Mount Rushmore, the Black Hills and Badlands

Discover South Dakota’s beautiful Black Hills and Badlands, where bison mosey through roadside meadows and hand-carved mountains tower over vast stretches of untouched wilderness.
Length
7 days
Starts at
1,499
Program No. 13160 RJ
Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
climate
Plan ahead.
What kind of weather can you expect? Take a look!
itinerary
Please Note:
The itinerary for this program is different on certain dates.
Select your type of room
Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Aug 15 - Aug 21, 2021
Small group
Starting at
1,999
Aug 22 - Aug 28, 2021
Starting at
1,549
Aug 29 - Sep 4, 2021
Starting at
1,499
Sep 5 - Sep 11, 2021
Starting at
1,499
Sep 12 - Sep 18, 2021
Starting at
1,499
Sep 19 - Sep 25, 2021
Starting at
1,499
Itinerary Note

Max of 76 participants broken into smaller groups for activities and field trips. This date includes Special Event: Custer State Park's Annual Buffalo Roundup.

Sep 21 - Sep 27, 2021
Starting at
1,749
Itinerary Note

Max of 76 participants broken into smaller groups for activities and field trips. This date includes a Special Event: Custer State Park's Annual Buffalo Roundup and lodging at the Rushmore Plaza Holiday Inn in Rapid City.

Sep 26 - Oct 2, 2021
Small group
Starting at
1,849
May 1 - May 7, 2022
Starting at
1,499
May 8 - May 14, 2022
Starting at
1,499
May 15 - May 21, 2022
Small group
Starting at
1,899
May 22 - May 28, 2022
Starting at
1,499
Jun 5 - Jun 11, 2022
Starting at
1,699
Jun 26 - Jul 2, 2022
Small group
Starting at
2,099
Jul 17 - Jul 23, 2022
Starting at
1,699
Jul 24 - Jul 30, 2022
Small group
Starting at
2,099
Jul 31 - Aug 6, 2022
Starting at
1,699
Aug 14 - Aug 20, 2022
Small group
Starting at
2,099
Aug 21 - Aug 27, 2022
Starting at
1,559
Aug 28 - Sep 3, 2022
Starting at
1,559
Sep 4 - Sep 10, 2022
Starting at
1,559
Sep 11 - Sep 17, 2022
Starting at
1,559
Sep 18 - Sep 24, 2022
Small group
Starting at
1,559
Sep 25 - Oct 1, 2022
Starting at
1,599
Itinerary Note

Max of 76 participants broken into smaller groups for activities and field trips. This date includes a Special Event: Custer State Park's Annual Buffalo Roundup.

Sep 27 - Oct 3, 2022
Starting at
1,849
Itinerary Note

Max of 76 participants broken into smaller groups for activities and field trips. This date includes a Special Event: Custer State Park's Annual Buffalo Roundup and lodging at the Rushmore Plaza Holiday Inn in Rapid City.

DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Aug 15 - Aug 21, 2021
Small group
Starting at
2,579
Aug 22 - Aug 28, 2021
Starting at
2,129
Aug 29 - Sep 4, 2021
Starting at
1,979
Sep 5 - Sep 11, 2021
Starting at
1,979
Sep 12 - Sep 18, 2021
Starting at
1,979
Sep 19 - Sep 25, 2021
Starting at
1,979
Itinerary Note

Max of 76 participants broken into smaller groups for activities and field trips. This date includes Special Event: Custer State Park's Annual Buffalo Roundup.

Sep 21 - Sep 27, 2021
Starting at
2,279
Itinerary Note

Max of 76 participants broken into smaller groups for activities and field trips. This date includes a Special Event: Custer State Park's Annual Buffalo Roundup and lodging at the Rushmore Plaza Holiday Inn in Rapid City.

Sep 26 - Oct 2, 2021
Small group
Starting at
2,329
May 1 - May 7, 2022
Starting at
1,979
May 8 - May 14, 2022
Starting at
1,979
May 15 - May 21, 2022
Small group
Starting at
2,379
May 22 - May 28, 2022
Starting at
1,979
Jun 5 - Jun 11, 2022
Starting at
2,279
Jun 26 - Jul 2, 2022
Small group
Starting at
2,679
Jul 17 - Jul 23, 2022
Starting at
2,279
Jul 24 - Jul 30, 2022
Small group
Starting at
2,679
Jul 31 - Aug 6, 2022
Starting at
2,279
Aug 14 - Aug 20, 2022
Small group
Starting at
2,679
Aug 21 - Aug 27, 2022
Starting at
2,039
Aug 28 - Sep 3, 2022
Starting at
2,039
Sep 4 - Sep 10, 2022
Starting at
2,039
Sep 11 - Sep 17, 2022
Starting at
2,039
Sep 18 - Sep 24, 2022
Small group
Starting at
2,039
Sep 25 - Oct 1, 2022
Starting at
2,079
Itinerary Note

Max of 76 participants broken into smaller groups for activities and field trips. This date includes a Special Event: Custer State Park's Annual Buffalo Roundup.

Sep 27 - Oct 3, 2022
Starting at
2,379
Itinerary Note

Max of 76 participants broken into smaller groups for activities and field trips. This date includes a Special Event: Custer State Park's Annual Buffalo Roundup and lodging at the Rushmore Plaza Holiday Inn in Rapid City.

At a Glance

The land now shadowed by Mount Rushmore was, up until the 1870s, called the "last great unknown." Enrich your understanding of American growth in this vast wilderness as you immerse yourself in the discovery of Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Badlands National Park and The Mammoth Site. Study the lives of gold seekers and sod busters, and discover the Old West before a handful of presidents made it famous.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
Walking up to one mile on varied terrain; some stairs. Elevations range from 4,300 to 5,200 feet.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Expand your mind with interpretive field trips to Mount Rushmore National Memorial, the Crazy Horse Memorial and Custer State Park.
  • Experience the otherworldly moon-like landscape of spectacular Badlands National Park.
  • Discover an active paleontological dig site, which boasts the largest concentration of mammoth remains in the world!

General Notes

Select dates are designated for small groups and are limited to 24 participants or less. For a more active outdoor program in the Black Hills, see program #12774.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
John Esposti
Born and raised in central New Jersey, John Esposti made the decision at five years of age to go out west and meet his destiny. At 18, he enrolled at the University of Idaho and received a degree in education. He then moved to Valdez, Alaska to teach woodworking, drafting and electronics. After four years of working and experiencing all sorts of adventures in a wild and amazing land, he climbed onto a sailboat and sailed off into the sunset bound for Hawaii, and later attended the University of Hawaii. After marrying his wife, Cindy, John returned to the Black Hills to operate a family-run business named Rushmore Cave. After selling the cave business in 2008, John worked for three years at the renowned Black Hills Institute of Geological Research in Hill City, S.D. Today, he and Cindy are starting a new venture called GeoFunTrek, with a goal to provide stimulating visitor experiences in the form of day-long educational explorations in the Black Hills.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of John Esposti
John Esposti View biography
Born and raised in central New Jersey, John Esposti made the decision at five years of age to go out west and meet his destiny. At 18, he enrolled at the University of Idaho and received a degree in education. He then moved to Valdez, Alaska to teach woodworking, drafting and electronics. After four years of working and experiencing all sorts of adventures in a wild and amazing land, he climbed onto a sailboat and sailed off into the sunset bound for Hawaii, and later attended the University of Hawaii. After marrying his wife, Cindy, John returned to the Black Hills to operate a family-run business named Rushmore Cave. After selling the cave business in 2008, John worked for three years at the renowned Black Hills Institute of Geological Research in Hill City, S.D. Today, he and Cindy are starting a new venture called GeoFunTrek, with a goal to provide stimulating visitor experiences in the form of day-long educational explorations in the Black Hills.
Profile Image of Stephen Yellowhawk
Stephen Yellowhawk View biography
Stephen Yellowhawk was born on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. He was first inspired to dance by his uncle, Jim Yellowhawk, and has been sharing his talents for traditional dance since he was 14 years old. He is actively pursuing a master’s degree in leadership and management in becoming a leader in Indian education. He is currently employed at the Okiciyapi Wellness Center as a health technician to Native American diabetic patients and serves as the board president for the Black Hills Powwow Association.
Profile Image of Paul Horsted
Paul Horsted View biography
Paul Horsted has been photographing South Dakota’s people and places for more than 30 years. Early in his career, he was a staff photographer at the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, and later served as chief photographer at the South Dakota Department of Tourism. Now living in Custer, Paul has been an independent freelance photographer for the past two decades. His work has appeared in publications such as LIFE magazine, Reader's Digest, and Smithsonian, and he's a frequent contributor to South Dakota Magazine. Paul is co-author of the award-winning book, “Exploring With Custer: The 1874 Black Hills Expedition,” and of the more recent book, “The Black Hills Yesterday & Today.” In 2009, Paul and his research partners released a companion volume about the 1874 Custer Expedition's travels to and from the Black Hills, entitled, “Crossing the Plains With Custer.”
Profile Image of Donna Fisher
Donna Fisher View biography
Donna loves the Mountain West. Roping dairy calves and riding sawhorses, she pretended to be a cowgirl as she grew up on a Minnesota farm. She fell in love with the Black Hills on her honeymoon, she says. Donna spent 13 years in school libraries and 12 years as a classroom teacher of English and journalism. She was named both South Dakota English Teacher of the Year and South Dakota Librarian of the Year during her career. Her love for regional writers led to editing the first South Dakota Literary Map and web site plus a trunk full of other projects including a summer as a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow. Now retired, she serves on the interpretation and continuity team at the Journey Museum, and helps to lead the membership and marketing committee. In 2007, she was chief researcher and co-director of an exhibit on Black Hills pioneer artist Grace French. Donna looks forward to sharing her love for the Black Hills with Road Scholar lifelong learners!
Profile Image of Penny Island
Penny Island View biography
Penny Island has many stories to share about Deadwood, South Dakota. An elementary teacher for 37 years who made history “come alive” for her students, she retired in May 2012. Penny has a B.S. in elementary education and special education, and a master’s degree from St. Scholastica in curriculum and instruction. Fun times for Penny are spending time with family, hunting in the Black Hills for old mining towns and spending time at her cabin in the mining town of Galena. She also enjoys reading, quilting, driving her 1934 street rods, and sharing her knowledge of this area with visitors.
Profile Image of Bill Keck
Bill Keck is a retired extension educator serving 33 years with Pennsylvania State, Colorado State and South Dakota State Universities. He is a very active volunteer in the Rapid City community, dedicating his time to the Chamber of Commerce, Urban Wildlife and Forestry Board, Rapid City schools, Cosmopolitan service club and his local church. Bill has run a Master Gardener program for many years and has been a regular speaker on local radio programs. Bill is married with three grown children and five grandchildren.
Profile Image of Karen Raben
Karen Raben View biography
Having grown up in the Black Hills area — and now residing here again since her retirement — Karen Raben loves to share the rich history of South Dakota with visitors to the region. Karen and her husband, Tim, have traveled and lived throughout the Midwest, Connecticut and New York while running a consulting business. With a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Dakota and a master’s from Connecticut Western State University, Karen also pursued a career in education. Now back in Rapid City, she welcomes lifelong learners to the wonders of the Badlands and Black Hills.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Carving of Mount Rushmore
by Rex Alan Smith
This entertaining and very readable book tells the fascinating stories of the people of Mt. Rushmore. Included are first person accounts of not only the carvers, the politicians and Borglum, but an almost unbelievable host of others who became part of the tumult and triumph that make this history read like a novel. If you’re only going to read one book about Rushmore, this is the one.
Roadside History of South Dakota
by Linda Hasselstrom
Reading Roadside History of South Dakota is like having a knowledgeable friend explain the most fascinating and pertinent tidbits of the state's past without reciting a lot of boring details. The book's comfortable, conversational style guides readers smoothly along the state's highways and byways. Even those who think they already know South Dakota can anticipate to learn new things from this insightful, informative, yet thoroughly readable and entertaining roadside history. The material is rich, and Linda Hasselstrom reveals it in an exciting way by focusing on the people who made South Dakota what it is today.
Moon of Popping Trees
by Rex Alan Smith
The Massacre at Wounded Knee was the last major battle between whites and Native Americans.With parallels to concerns some have of today’s news reports, you’ll see that this massacre was largely a result of overblown news reports of the danger of the Native American Ghost Dance. Even more startling is the revelation in this book that the Ghost Dance had its origin in the Christian resurrection story. This book spans fifty years of the life and struggles of Native Americans as they try to maintain their lifestyle in the face of America’s westward expansion.
Exploring with Custer: The 1874 Black Hills Expedition
by Ernest Grafe & Paul Horsted
General George Armstrong Custer's Journey to the Black Hills in 1874 was better documented than any other military expedition of the Old West. Not only did William H. Illingworth record superb views of the landscape and several camps, but at least fifteen men wrote diaries, reports or newspaper dispatches brimming with vivid detail. This book blends the Illingworth photos and their present-day counterparts with selections from all known accounts to paint a unique portrait of everyday life along the trail. Please order through Paul Horsted at www.dakotaphoto.com or 1.800.248.2194
Cowboy Life: The Letters of George Philip
by George Philip and Cathie Draine
As a young man, George Philip emigrated from Scotland to escape a harsh apprenticeship. In 1899, he arrived on the doorstep of his uncle, James (“Scotty”) Philip, patriarch of one of South Dakota’s foremost ranching families. For the next four years, Philip rode as a cowboy for his uncle’s L-7 cattle outfit during the heyday of the last open range. But the cowboy era was a brief one, and in 1903 Philip turned in his string of horses and hung up his saddle to enter law school in Michigan. With a law degree in hand, he returned to South Dakota to practice in the wide-open western towns of Fort Pierre, Philip, and Rapid City. In these candid letters, Philip tells his children that his life was an ordinary one, but his memoirs quickly dispel that notion. He provides fascinating insights into the development of the West and of South Dakota. His writing details the cowboy’s day-to-day work, from branding and roping to navigating across the plains by stars and buttes as the great open ranges slowly closed up. The places and characters of the range find life in Philip’s mixture of humor, hard-nosed “horse-sense," and poignant reflection.
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7 days
6 nights
16 meals
6 B 4 L 6 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Keystone, SD
D
K Bar S Lodge

Activity note: Lodge check-in from 3:00 p.m. Remember to bring your nametag (sent previously).

Afternoon: Program Registration 4:30 p.m. After you check in and have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table in the lobby to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing the up-to-date schedule that reflects any changes, other important information, and to confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation 5:30 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Lectures and field trips will be led by local experts including our knowledgeable Group Leaders. Unless specified otherwise, transportation will be provided via motorcoach that will require going up/down a few steps. Evening sessions and one morning session will take place in a meeting room at the Lodge. Periods in the schedule labeled “Free Time” and “At Leisure” offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable while going out to explore on your own, engaging in available activities independently, making new friends among fellow Road Scholars, or simply relaxing. The Group Leader will always be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: In the lodge dining facility.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
High Plains Heritage, Homestake, Natural & Human History
Keystone, SD
B,L,D
K Bar S Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 120 miles, approximately 2 hours total. Walking about 1/2 mile indoors and out; groomed paths; standing up to 1/2 hour at a time in museums and historic buildings, some stairs.

Breakfast: In the lodge dining facility.

Morning: We’ll begin our learning adventure and board a motorcoach for an expert-led field trip to the High Plains Western Heritage Center in Spearfish. The center features a five-state regional museum that pays tribute to Native Americans and Old West pioneers of South Dakota as well as Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wyoming. Within its more than 20,000 square feet are exhibits showcasing Western art, artifacts, and memorabilia including the original Spearfish-to-Deadwood Stagecoach, a turn-of-the-century kitchen, saddle shop, and blacksmith shop, plus exhibits on forestry, mining, ranching, and rodeo. Outdoor displays include Longhorn cattle, a furnished log cabin, a rural schoolhouse, and antique farm equipment. After learning about early Western settlement in South Dakota, we’ll move to the theater for a historical representation interpreting one of South Dakota’s early pioneers.

Lunch: At the Heritage Center.

Afternoon: Next, we will ride to the mountain town of Lead, sister city of historic Deadwood, that has played a pivotal role in the history of the Black Hills. Home to the Homestake Gold Mine, the streets of Lead tell a tale as rich as the gold mined from its hills. The Homestake mine was one of the early enterprises associated with the Gold Rush of 1876. Gold mining ceased at the end of 2001 due to low gold prices but a few years later it began a new life as a laboratory 4,850 feet underground. The lab is working towards a revolution in physics by studying neutrinos. The Deputy Director for Education and Outreach at the Sanford Underground Research Facility will give us a presentation. We’ll return to the lodge after our field trip.

Dinner: At the lodge.

Evening: We’ll be joined by a local expert who will tell us more about the natural and human history of the Black Hills.

DAY
3
Mt. Rushmore, Rapid City, Journey Museum, History & Culture
Keystone, SD
B,D
K Bar S Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 70 miles throughout the day, approximately 2 hours total. Walking about 1/2 mile indoors and out; groomed paths; standing up to 1 hour at a time in museums, some stairs.

Breakfast: At the lodge.

Morning: With our Group Leader, we’ll explore the United States’ Shrine of Democracy – Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Danish-American sculptor Gutzon Borglum, the creator of Mount Rushmore, wrote: “The purpose of the memorial is to communicate the founding, expansion, preservation, and unification of the United States with colossal statues of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.” Borglum intended his monumental sculpture to be not only a memorial to four of our greatest Presidents, but a Shrine to Democracy. Why these four? Washington led the nascent United States to win independence from Great Britain. Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence. Roosevelt the “trust buster” ensured the rights of working people and was instrumental in building the Panama Canal. Lincoln led the country through the Civil War. Borglum began work in 1927 and continued until his death in 1941, when his son, Lincoln Borglum, took it on and ended work later that year. If you wish, feel free to expand your exploration of Mount Rushmore independently with an elective short walk on the Presidential Trail to Borglum’s studio. Interpretive signage along the way will illuminate more about the monument, its construction, and the artist whose vision produced one of America’s most iconic symbols. Next, we’ll venture into Rapid City via motorcoach for some independent exploration. Chosen as the “Most Patriotic City” by USA Today readers, where we’ll be greeted by the “City of Presidents” — a 20-square-block section of historic downtown with life-size bronze statues of all of the past presidents along streets and sidewalks. It was begun in 2000 to honor the legacy of the American presidency. The Group Leader will hand out an interpretive walking brochure of the statues for our self-directed exploration.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to have what you like in down town Rapid City. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: Next, we will regroup and ride to the Journey Museum. With our Group Leader and museum docents, we’ll learn about the Black Hills and surrounding area through the museum’s four major collections that provide a metaphorical journey into the past. The Journey Museum brings into focus a cogent story of billions of years of eruption, exploration, evolution, conflict and change. A tectonic shift deep inside the earth 2.5 billion years ago violently thrust the land now known as the Black Hills into being. One of the oldest mountain ranges in the world, they have been worn down by the ravages of time from a height that was greater than the Matterhorn, thereby exposing the fine granite suitable now for mountain carving. Once on the edge of a great inland sea, this part of what is now the Great Plains was home to ancient dinosaurs. The Journey helps bring them back to relevance as we understand their time in this place. Prehistoric people came here when ice still held sway over most of North America and it would be another 10,000 years before the arrival of current Native Americans. The Journey helps us understand their life before the arrival of the white man. As we continue through The Journey, we’ll begin to comprehend their changing world with the arrival of gold seekers and settlers who were intent on building a future in Dakota Territory. We’ll return to the lodge after our field trip.

Dinner: At the lodge.

Evening: A local expert will join us to share captivating stories and historic accounts of the local culture, peoples, and traditions.

DAY
4
Custer State Park, Crazy Horse Memorial, Lighting Ceremony
Keystone, SD
B,L,D
K Bar S Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 100 miles, approximately 4 hours throughout the day. Walking about 1 mile indoors and out; groomed paths; standing up to 1 hour at a time in museums, some stairs.

Breakfast: At the lodge.

Morning: We’ll set out for our next field trip on Iron Mountain Road, a scenic byway in Custer State Park. What makes this road so distinctive and memorable is not only the surrounding beauty, but also architectural features including wooden structures called pigtail bridges, and one-lane tunnels that were built to showcase Mount Rushmore like a picture frame. Our Group Leader will provide commentary as we explore Custer State Park during a scenic drive around the Wildlife Loop Road. The park’s pine forests, grassy meadows, and towers of granite offer spectacular vistas while also providing a remarkable, lush sanctuary for the park’s four-legged residents. Nearly 1,500 bison, along with fleet pronghorn, elusive elk, sure-footed mountain goats, and a band of “begging burros” — wild donkeys that have learned to seek food hand-outs from motorists — all freely roam the park’s sprawling 71,000 acres.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: In 1939, Chief Henry Standing Bear wrote to sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski, “My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes, too.” In response, and without federal funding, Ziolkowski set out to create a memorial to the history and heritage of Native Americans, personified by Chief Crazy Horse. He began carving the mountain in 1948 and worked on the project until his death in 1982. His family continues the dream as work progresses on the world’s largest mountain sculpture that still uses no tax dollars and is funded privately through a non-profit organization. When completed, the Crazy Horse Memorial will be the largest outdoor sculpture in the world: 641 feet long and 563 feet high. Led by a museum expert, we’ll explore the Museums of the Crazy Horse Memorial and learn about its campus that serves as a repository for Native American artifacts, arts, and crafts as well as the Native American Educational & Cultural Center. We'll also travel via motorcoach to the base of Crazy Horse, where an expert Crazy Horse staff member sill step on and provide additional information and education about this unique mountain carving in process We’ll then return to the lodge.

Dinner: At the lodge.

Evening: We will provide transportation to the Mount Rushmore Lighting Ceremony, a patriotic program with a ranger presentation in the outdoor auditorium.

DAY
5
SD & Black Hills, Mammoth Site, Free Time, Trail Blazers
Keystone, SD
B,L,D
K Bar S Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 110 miles round-trip, approximately 2 hours total. Walking about 1/2 mile indoors and out; boardwalks, sidewalks; standing up to 1 hour at a time in museums, some stairs.

Breakfast: At the lodge.

Morning: At the lodge, a local expert will captivate us with fascinating narratives about South Dakota and the Black Hills. We’ll then ride to Hot Springs, South Dakota, for an expert-led field trip to an active paleontological dig site that boasts the largest concentration of mammoth remains in the world. This is the world’s largest Columbian Mammoth exhibit and research center for Pleistocene studies. We’ll go back in time when Ice Age mammoths, camels, and giant short-faced bears roamed the Great Plains of North America. More than 26,000 years ago, a sinkhole suddenly collapsed and the warm spring percolating from the bottom filled it in to create an ideal watering hole for animals to quench their thirst. The sinkhole became too slippery and steep for the animals to retreat, thus creating a death trap for large Columbian and Woolly Mammoths. We’ll learn more about specific bones, fossils, and stories behind the Mammoths’ demise.

Lunch: At a popular restaurant next to the Mammoth Site.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll ride to Hill City for an afternoon of self-directed exploration to see and do what interests each of us most. Hill City has a number of galleries belonging to local artists and artisans. The Black Hills Institute of Geological Research, founded in 1974, is the leader in paleontological excavations and preparation. The Institute helps supply museums and collectors the finest in professionally prepared fossils and cast replicas. They have been involved with the excavation of eight Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons since 1990, including Sue, Stan, Bucky, Duffy, and Wyrex — among the top ten most complete T-rex skeletons yet discovered. The South Dakota State Railroad Museum, Ltd. is a not-for-profit organization that preserves and interprets railroad equipment, memorabilia, and the ever-changing historical material specific to South Dakota and related American railroads.

Dinner: At the lodge.

Evening: We’ll gather for a presentation on the colorful history of those who blazed the trail expanding the Western frontier.

DAY
6
Minute Man Missile Historic Site, Badlands National Park
Keystone, SD
B,L,D
K Bar S Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 230 miles throughout the day, approximately 4.5 hours total. Walking about 1/2 mile outdoors; boardwalks, groomed paths.

Breakfast: At the lodge.

Morning: En route to Badlands National Park, we’ll stop at the Visitor Center of the Minute Man Missile National Historic Site. After some “set up” information by our Group Leader, we’ll have time for self-directed exploration. From the National Park Service: “During the Cold War, a vast arsenal of nuclear missiles were placed in the Great Plains. Hidden in plain sight, for thirty years 1,000 missiles were kept on constant alert; hundreds remain today. The Minuteman Missile remains an iconic weapon in the American nuclear arsenal. It holds the power to destroy civilization, but is meant as a nuclear deterrent to maintain peace and prevent war.” Next, we’ll ride a short distance to Badlands National Park and explore the place the Lakota named “mako sica” meaning “land bad.” We will ride into the park and stop at several interpretive sites where we’ll go on short walks to get an up close view and feel of the Badlands’ immense and unreal-like landscape. An inland sea covered this area 68-77 million years ago. Erosion of the Badlands over the last 75 million years revealed sedimentary layers of vivid colors resulting from different minerals and elements left from volcanic ash carried here by the wind from other parts of the world. Today, the park’s 244,000 acres — mystical moon-like topography with spires and pinnacles surrounded by a sea of grass — are inhabited by buffalo, deer, antelope, prairie dogs, and much more.

Lunch: At a scenic spot in Badlands National Park, we’ll have boxed lunches.

Afternoon: Returning to the lodge, the remainder of the afternoon is free.

Dinner: At the lodge. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
7
Program Concludes
Keystone, SD
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: At the lodge. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.